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Public seek chances to thaw ties

2014-09-10 09:00 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Si Huan

A latest poll unveiled on Tuesday that tapping public diplomacy to repair bilateral relations continued to attract public support from both China and Japan.

The contribution of people-to-people interactions to improving ties were endorsed by 64.4 percent of the Japanese public and 63.4 percent of its Chinese counterpart, , according to the 10th Public Opinion on China-Japan Relations survey, which has been co-sponsored annually by China Daily and Japanese nonprofit think tank Genron NPO.

Among the Japanese public who supported public diplomacy, 70.7 percent of them believed that "mutual understanding between the two peoples will be deepened through exchanges", compared with 66.2 percent last year.

Similarly, 56.7 percent of those in China who supported public diplomacy believed that people-to-people interactions "expand the foundation for the shared interests of both nations".

Professor Akio Takahara of Tokyo University also saw a slight improvement in Chinese people's feelings about Japan.

"A large number of Chinese tourists have visited Japan recently and might return home with a good impression of Japan," Takahara said.

The number of Chinese mainland travelers to Japan for the first half of this year witnessed a year-on-year increase of 88.2 percent to hit more than 1 million people, figures from the Japan National Tourism Organization showed.

In another hopeful sign for deepening mutual understanding, the latest China Daily-Genron NPO poll showed that an increasing number of Chinese intellectuals and members of the public were diversifying their knowledge of their Japanese neighbors through the media.

Last year, 14.3 percent of Chinese respondents obtained information regarding Japan directly from Japanese media last year. The figure this year rose to 23.7 percent.

When it came to Chinese intellectuals, including university faculty and students, 21.4 percent of them accessed Japan-related information directly from Japanese media.

Li Wei, director of the Institute of Japan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, suggested that there was a "shared pursuit between China and Japan -- they are both seeking a peaceful rise and not expecting a war".

"They both seek security in the Asia-Pacific region and hope to resolve problems in the neighborhood through dialogues within the existing frameworks. That is where the breakthrough may be," Li said.

Li also said that the historical and territorial issues are unlikely to be resolved overnight because they are intertwined with each other. These major issues are also not on their wish list when the two sides seek breakthroughs in ties, so efforts to do so should start from less controversial concerns, Li said.

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